ESL in corona virus situation
Eight million log on daily. Its top players make millions.
It was the broadcast for the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS). League of Legends, a multiple-player online battle arena game developed by Riot Games and released in 2009, is the hottest esports title within the world with up to eight million gamers logging on daily to play on their computers.
The LCS, which was created in 2012, is the game’s highest level of competition in North America. It is also one among the few remaining live entertainment options afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands were concurrently watching the stream, presented by a large mainstream advertiser, State Farm, on Twitch and YouTube. It was back online after a one-week hiatus, pushing forward when much of society had skidded to a halt. The matches, regularly held in West Los Angeles in front of a few hundred fans, were staged remotely. People are streaming and watching streams more than ever since the outbreak began taking hold, according to and TwitchTracker.com and SullyGnome.com, which monitor Twitch audiences. The platform has set all-time highs this month in peak daily active users (22.7 million), average concurrent viewers (1.6 million), and number of streamers (65,000). “In esports, the show can continue ,” esports lawyer Bryce Blum said. “We can transition back to our roots.” The increase has not, however, been as uniform for conventional esports events. A few esports have seen instant growth in viewers, such as Rocket League and the ESL Pro League, a 24-team Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition that recently enjoyed its most-watched broadcast day in history. Conversely, League of Legends has experienced a year-over-year jump of around 20,000 viewers on Twitch this month, but has seen a dip since the LCS opened its spring season to great fervor in late January. Almost every single major professional sports league across the world is on indefinite hiatus thanks to the continued novel coronavirus pandemic.
There’s no NBA, no Champions League, no Olympic Games.
But an unlikely option has begun to fill that void for viewers: competitive video games. For years, esports leagues have tried to emulate traditional sports to succeed in a bigger and more mainstream audience. But with millions forced to stay at home, these leagues have had to adapt in a way that emphasizes their digital-first nature.
Over the past few weeks, almost every major esports league within the world including the CDL, Overwatch League, ESL Pro League, Flashpoint, and multiple League of Legends competitions has shifted to an online format. Typically, these games are played offline during a studio or arena environment. Players take the stage, fans go wild, and casters keep up the energy with infectious commentary. Re-creating that when everyone, from the players to the event’s producers, is working from home creates its own unique set of challenges. In late February, IEM Katowice 2020, one of the world’s premier Counter-Strike competitions, took place in an empty 11,000-seat stadium after the Polish government declared a ban on mass gatherings not long before the event was set to kick off. It was around this time that Craig Levine, global chief strategy officer for the CS:GO ESL Pro League, realized they were going to need to make some changes. The league originally planned to play out its regular season at a studio in Malta, with the finals slated for an occasion in Denver. The team went through a couple of options, including playing during a studio with no fans, but because the situation escalated, they settled on playing everything of the competition online.